Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring has Arrived

The week started unsettled.  One minute it was sunny with a few sprinkles, next we had snow showers!

Even after the cold snow showers, I knew spring had arrived.  I saw worms squirming around the next morning.

That must be one reason the robins have come back!

The warm weather has found me out and about the yard.  There have been piles of sand and dirt by the driveway from the winter plows to be cleared, lots of fallen sticks about, remnants of snow to shovel off the decks.

We decided to expand the garden.  I put in more raised beds.  We also decided to put weed cloth all around the beds (more on that in a later post).  We'll have 2 beds for potatoes, a bed for garlic and carrots, 1 bed for basil, 4 beds for tomatoes, 2 beds for beans, spinach and kale, 1 bed for herbs, and a bed for chili peppers.

I moved the last of the wood pellets inside.  Our days of running the pellet stove are numbered.

It felt so good to be outside.  After several hours of work, I was tired. I sat by the creek for an hour enjoying the sun and watching the birds.

Welcome Spring!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Early Spring or Late Winter

I went for a short paddle this morning.  It was below freezing when I started, with light winds from the north-west.

The day started out grey.

We have had occasional snow the last few weeks.  The large pieces of river ice have dissappeared, but there still is snow on the ground in the shady places.

I paddled up the Susquehanna towards Hiawatha Island.  It was very quiet.  A few geese and ducks were about, but it seemed to quiet.

As I got to the upstream end of the island,  I could hear a riot of bird calls.  Dozens and dozens of birds were chirping and calling. Then I heard the distinct  peal and then chatter call of a Bald Eagle.  A large bird then emerged from a stand of pine trees and flew a short distance to a very large pine tree on Hiawatha Island.

Unlike the juvenile birds I saw 2 weeks ago, this was an adult bird.

I watched the eagle for a while, then continued upstream.  I came across the occasional Canada Goose.  How can they stand the cold?

Maybe they can't!

I saw signs of beaver activity in the area.  I have never seen a lodge.  Given the size of the river, they would have to create dens in the banks of the river.  I'll keep my eyes open for them.

Flocks of blackbirds were about.  They flew from tree to tree downstream, landing on the riverbanks oncein a while.

The floods of 2011 still leave reminders of their power.  Most of the homes along this stretch of the river are damaged and have been sitting empty.  Many will torn down.

I was cold after 2 hours on the water.  Looking forwards to Spring!

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Spring started this week, but you would not know it.

The gardens are still to cold to work . . .

The streams are running free with melt-water  . . .

It is in this time of year we have time to kick around the antique shops.  I came across this Stanley No. 68 folding rule.  It is a 6 inch rule that unfolds to 24 inches.  The perfect rule to keep in a pocket while working in the workshop (and only $7!).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Peddling and Paddling

I stopped at the car wash on Friday to rid my car of a winter's worth of salt and grime.  Yeah, I know it will snow again.  But I wanted to get my car clean so I could . . .

. . . put on my kayak rack!  It was to be a warm and sunny weekend.  Dry roads, ice-free rivers!

I went cycling on Saturday.  Temps in the mid-40's, but no wind.  Still quite a bit of snow about, especially on the north side of the hills.

We've seen a lot of deer around this season.  It was a mild winter.  I suspect the deer population is growing.

It felt so good to be outside.  I rode a while with my arms outstretched and my hands off the bars.  Moving down the road felt like flying!

I went to breakfast with the wife on Sunday, and then went for a short paddle on the Susquehanna River.  I put in at Hickories State Park in Owego and headed upstream.

I expected to see mergansers, and I did.

It was slightly overcast, with the winding picking up from the south.  The river was ice free, and a few fishermen were out.  I decided to go around the south side of Hiawatha Island.

The banks are strewn with large pans of ice.  It will melt quickly.

I came across this drainage pipe.  It runs underneath the highway which follows the river at the stretch.  As a kid I would have wanted to climb in this pipe (it was about 3 feet in diameter) and go out the other side.

There were gaggles of Canada geese everywhere.  I would come around a bend in the river, and they would start their honking.  Sometimes I could get pretty close . . .

. . . and sometimes I couldn't!

There were more geese everywhere I looked, even on shore.

As I came to a small cove in the river, I could hear a familiar sound.  Could it be a red-winged blackbird?

Unfortunately I was looking towards the sun and could only see the bird in silhouette.

The little cove was still iced-in.  I paddled up into the ice.

There were large 'bergy bits' on the shore.  Some were many feet high, but they were melting.

I looked up and saw something in a tree.

What is it?

An immature bald eagle!  They are seen on the river.  I was hoping to see one.  Awesome!

I guess he did not want to see me!

The river is pretty clear now.  It still gets silty if there is a lot of runoff, but you can see the bottom.  A few fresh water mussel shells were evident.

I headed back downstream.  In time I got back to Hiawatha Island.  I went around the north side.

Though the island appears surrounded with thick, muddy banks, I came across a short stretch which was rocky and clean.  I decided to get out and explore a bit.

I immediately startled a few deer as I struggled with the brambles.  I came across some trails.  One led to a old farmhouse (now abandoned).  I think it is preserved.

There were all sorts of mechanical equipment about.

Even a fairly new outhouse.

I came across an older shed with a damaged roof.    I climbed up the hill (very steep) to see what was going on.  It appears a tree fell on the roof and collapsed it.

As I got to the top of the hill, I came across another trail.  It led to an old water storage tank.  There used to be a hotel on the island many years ago.  I need to really research this place!

I decided to take the shortest path down the hill to the river and my kayak.  Needless to say, the brambles and slick conditions made my going slow. My sandals and neoprene booties weren't the best for descending, but my river-guide dry pants were rugged and stopped the brambles.

As I got to the shore, I had to head downstream a bit to my boat.  I came across hundreds of insects coming ashore and crawling on the ice on the banks.  I was not expecting them!

I struggled through the mud on the shoreline until I got to the rocky stretch of beach.  The thick, sticky mud pulled a sandal off once.

I got back in my boat and paddled back to the boat launch at Hickories.  It too is very muddy right now.  I slogged through the mud at the boat ramp as I carried my kayak up the ramp to my car.

Not wanting to waste the fine weather, I went for a ride.  I was going to stay on the main road, but I decided to take a side road.  I am glad I did.  I was first surprised to see the sap buckets out, but then realized that we have had below-freezing nights and above-freezing days.  Syrup season is here!

I continued down country roads, taking in the farms and scenery.

My weekend started off washing my car.  Well, I had to wash it again to get all the sticky mud off my kayak and car.  The self serve car wash in town is only $2.  Well worth the $4 in total for both washes to go paddling!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Coming Spring

Astronomical Spring is still a few weeks away.  The weather has been unsettled.  The deep cold weather appears to have passed.  Now we regularly climb above freezing, but we still get an inch or two of snow each week.

Two things occurred this week to let me know Spring is near - I saw my first groundhog out and about, and I smelled my first skunk.  The critters are stirring.  Spring will soon be here...